** GM
Starring: Huey Lewis, Andre Braugher, Paul Giamatti, Maria Bello, Scott Speedman, Gwyneth Paltrow, John Pinette


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This movie's release has been pushed back about a hundred times... and that's rarely a good sign. In this case, it could have been a lot worse. It's a karaoke movie, fer cryin' out loud.

It's another one of those 'random stories intertwine at the end' flicks. Gwyneth Paltrow is the desperate-for-compassion daughter of vagabond 'karaoke hustler' Huey Lewis. Paul Giamatti is rebelling from his boring sales life and family, Andre Braugher is an ex-con who's only talent is singing, Scott Speedman is a cabbie with a nice-guy 'destiny' and a crap life, Maria Bello is a chick trying to get to California by sucking dick. John Pinette is a fat guy. They all wind up at karaoke championships for five grand in Omaha, Nebraska.

Now, I like Huey Lewis and I want him to be good. But he's not the best of actors, unfortunately, and it's also a little hard to buy him as a karaoke hustler... his voice isn't the kind of voice that blows people away in little snakenuts bars - it kinda needs to be taken in context with The News. It's great for what he does, but it's not an amazing thing to behold. Also, it's hard not to have him singing and not root for "Hip To Be Square." Paltrow's voice is surprisingly good - it gave her some allure for me for the first time. Giamatti and Braugher do a pretty good job, too - and Braugher's solo number later might be the best musical moment of the film. Bello's not particularly great, and Speedman doesn't sing. John Pinette steals the show.

The script is less than stellar - one emotional monologue from his daughter apparently instantly changes Huey from a distant, uncaring hump to a lovey papa figure, for instance - but oftentimes, music has a power over people, bringing out emotions words alone really can't - hence the sappy music always played over sad scenes to heighten the tear-jerk factor, etc. Therefore, the lack of all that much involvement with the characters is fudged over a bit by some emotive musical moments, making the film seem a little better than it really is.

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